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Welcome to Imperfect Faith

Who, What, and Why?

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

— Romans 2:12

First of all I would just like to say, thank you for coming to see what this is all about. I know that is such a generic formality, but in this case it is also very sincere. I am only here, giving this blogging thing a try, because enough people thought that my writing would be good enough to share with others. If you are one of those people who encouraged me or you are here because you’re giving my blogs a shot; thank you so very much in both cases. That being said if you are looking for some scholarly, sophisticated, or grammatically correct page I am simply not your guy. I started out by “shoot-from-the-hip” style writing (if that’s even a thing) where thoughts go from my brain to my fingertips, and whatever comes out, minus a few touch-ups, is what you are going to read. I have no editor and I don’t go through writing draft after draft trying to perfect it. I like it to be raw and genuine, and after so much editing it simply loses the feeling that it is from the heart. So as the heading suggests I just wanted to take a moment to explain the who, what, and why of this page.

Who?

I’m Brandon McPherson. To be perfectly honest, after that period I had to pause for a little while to think about what to say next. It is always the most awkward thing trying to define yourself in the confines of a paragraph or two. I fully intend to go through my social media account and dive a little deeper into that subject, but for now I will give the glossy, polished image of who I am. I am a janitor. No, really, that’s not a joke. I am the lead custodian for my church, and for where I am in my journey – seeking a deeper relationship with Christ – I wouldn’t change that for the world. It has been one of the most amazing things to be charged with cleaning (and attempting to maintain) the “house of God,” and getting to listen to the Bible, Christian music, or sermons all day long. It is truly a blessing because before I was a janitor I was having a major identity crisis. I wont go too much into that here, but I was on a path to destruction and God put things in motion for me to start seeking the identity He has for me instead of the identity I was fumbling around trying to create myself. Really, the who part of this writing is the reason I picked the verse that I did.

Other than that the basic stats – which you were probably looking for before that long paragraph anyways – are that I am 34 and I have 4 kids. That being said the idea of my “shoot-from-the-hip” style of writing probably makes a lot more sense. What do I do for fun? I read, write, and work out pretty excessively. I use to be an avid gamer, but it was in reality more of an addiction. So now I dabble a little bit, but I am so very focused on bettering myself by understanding my relationship with Christ that things that draw away from the reality of what I can do in the world have put gaming on a very distant back burner.

What?

You are possibly wondering why I chose the name “Imperfect Faith,” or maybe you are not, but I am going to tell you anyway. The fact of the matter is that calling it imperfect really wasn’t even necessary because there is no such thing as perfect faith. I still chose that to be the name of this page, however, because I believe that we as Christians have spent generation after generation depicting ourselves as “better than the common rabble.” We have this generic persona as being “Bible thumper’s,” “holier-than-thou-art,” or in a very real truth sometimes, hypocrites. As far as the last one is concerned if you are a Christian, and you think you have perfect faith that lets you hold your nose higher than someone else; you are. I hope that within these pages it is clear that my faith in the fact that God exists is unfailing, but sometimes my faith in myself to do good works for him, or my ability to hold true to myself that his promises are always promises is as fallible as anyone else. We may be Christians, but we are still sinners, because we are human just the same as anyone who doesn’t believe. Which leads me to the why.

Why?

I am choosing to create this page for two major reasons. I believe that people need to see that there are Christians who are willing to not look perfect on paper. We need to represent our faith and our humanity as well. We need to admit when we’ve faltered. We fail to show the grace of God when we fail to show that we ourselves are not deserving of it either. We take away from the glory of God when we try to look perfect, because God is the only perfect being in all eternity. I truly would hope that if this page starts looking too polished, or if I don’t actually explain why I am sharing something, and how I can see my own flaws in what I am writing someone will call me out. Our imperfect journey of faith towards the one and perfect God is something that needs to be celebrated in order to let other people see that we are just as undeserving of his grace as they think they are. I think if we, as Christians, can find ways to honor those who feel undeserving and even find ways to lift them up higher than us; then we can truly represent what the heart of Jesus looks like.

The second is that as I write these blogs I am doing so – to some degree – to work out my own questions about who God is and what I need to do to continue to build my relationship with Him. Often times you will see me state that what I write is as much for me as for anyone else. Truly, the reality of it is that more often than not what I am writing is personal convictions that I feel others out there may also benefit from. So if I am coming off as “harsh” don’t worry, I’m being just as critical, if not more, of myself as I am of anyone else.

All of that being said, I wanted to make one more thing clear that I am sure some of you have heard me say before. I am not perfect. I do not believe that I am better than anyone, and I believe God has saved me from myself in so many situations specifically so that I could not judge any person. In no way shape or form do I think that anything I write can not be refuted. In fact I, in full humility, would encourage open dialogue on anything that I write. I think that it is through discussion of our ideas and concepts, and where they differ from one another, that we can hone our own understanding of who God is and what it is that He is calling each of us to do. We are all in this together so feel free to send me any criticism that may lead to a healthy dialogue.

Again, thank you so much for reading this my very first post.

-Brandon

Who Are We To Love?

Lord, what are human beings that you care for them, mere mortals that you think of them?

Psalms 144:5

As I found myself in Psalms today 144:5 leaped out at me. I couldn’t help but to appreciate these humble words written by David. Our finite lives may be something easy to comprehend as working class citizens in a world where science has left little to mystery, but David was in a far different time. Not only that, but he was also anointed by God to be king of His people. Today we can watch a 5 minute Youtube video about the spectrum and scope of the universe and be blown away by just how insignificant we are in the proverbial grand scheme of things, but back then the universe was just stars in the sky. They didn’t even know they were giant balls of fire light years away. There was no real concept of how expansive Gods creation really is. We were the top of the food chain, and David was the top of the top of the food chain. Yet with all of His prestige I am completely captivated by his humility.

It really is impressive that the chosen king could speak words that everyone could relate to, and we have all thought this before. Who am I that God would listen? Who am I that God cares? Who am I that God would rescue me? Ring any bells? You see, here’s the thing though. While I appreciate the humility of David, and the humility that we have also shared with him in this thought process; we have to get out of our human level story and look at what God sees. God created the stars, the planets, the oceans, and the mountains. He created beautiful fish, birds, and animals. He created wind, lightning, thunder, and fire. Of all of the things in this world that bring us so much wonder and awe of the power of God, He wasn’t satisfied until he made us. Yes in the spectrum of the seemingly infinite universe we are not even an atom by comparison, yet we are the hand crafted, chosen creation that God has invested His love into. Not just us as a species though; you and me individually. He didn’t just create Adam and Eve dust off His hands and sit back and watch. No, He cares deeply for each of us individually. He has a story for us. He has a plan for us. He wants what is best for us (by his standards, not ours). He cares so much for you that He will move mountains to bring you back to His embrace.

Humility before God is ultimately important. He did create you. He is God of your universe, not you. However, you are so loved that all of the things in this universe can not distract God from loving you. Of all of the things that bring us wonder, God has His eyes on you. Isn’t that just incredible? Who are we that God cares? The answer, in Gods perspective, is everything. We are so important that He sent Jesus, His only son, as a sacrifice that we might be welcomed into his embrace. In that I find my humility. God can look at this man, who has been broken, beat down, defeated, lost and sinful. He can look at me with love in his heart and say, you are forgiven; you are loved. He has the same words for you. Humbling isn’t it?

While We Wait

Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay

in Habakkuk 2:3

I’ll be honest, I’ve never taken the time to read Habakkuk before. In fact its such a small book in the Bible I wouldn’t blame anyone for not even knowing they flipped past it before. I do believe, though, that when something is brought up enough coincidence needs to be ruled out, and it’s time to start listening to what is trying to be taught to you. That is exactly what caused me to open up Habakkuk and start reading. My home church is starting a sermon series on it, and a friends church down in Texas also started a sermon on it at the same time. It seemed like it was a good time for me to dive in and find out what was speaking to me. I listened to the book on my Bible app several times yesterday (the whole Book takes about 10 minutes to listen to) and this one line kept captivating me. Then this morning, without any difficulty – you know, the frantic scurrying you use to do in church to find the verse the pastor was asking you to flip to – Habakkuk was in front of me and the words popped out like they were glowing on the page. (yes, a slight dramatic effect)

Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.

There is no question about it right now. We are in a time where everything seems to be lingering. Questions that have no answers are abundant, and while the people in authority try their best to makeshift answers, they are about as well off as a child trying to build a bird house by themselves without instructions. We look day in and day out to see a glimmer of what it all looks like light on the other side of this tunnel, but every time we think we see a light it seems to be nothing more than our imagination at this point. Some people are without jobs, some people are stuck at home completely alone, and some people are trying to lead teams from home. The list of painful inconveniences can go on and on, but the fact of the mater is everyone is effected in some way by this situation right now. My situation is not nearly as severe as others, but I put how I am feeling about where I am right now in a Facebook post. I put it this way:

There is something surreal about being tasked to look after a church building in such a period as this. The building had life in it not long ago, and even though it is a place of worship; without the living tabernacles (us) inside of it, it feels like a void. I know this time will pass, and the church will be filled with life again. However, as I walk the halls the strangeness lies in the void. The memories of the past and the hope in the future all paused by a moment of absolute stillness that can’t be defined.

Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.

I wrote that post on the 14th of this month (April), and I think it becomes more clear, with this context, as to why the words almost jumped off the page to me. Besides the words I posted there are other things in my life that are floating in a state of lingering right now, as I know everyone else has also. 2020 was a year that was met with excitement in its beginning. It seemed like everyone was ready to just take the year by storm and make it a kick off to an awesome decade. After 2019 (which was a very intense and brutal year for me) I was certainly ready to attack the new year head on. I wrote out 52 things I wanted to accomplish this year. Everything from perfecting my body, to spending more time with my brothers, to doing more exciting things with my wife. When my brother, Cade, died in the beginning of the year, it was clear that my list was off to a horrible start. Then a series of injuries and infection made me realize that perfecting my body just wasn’t going to happen this year. Then the world wide shut down made it clear that exciting date nights weren’t in the cards either. As horrible as some of this sounds, the brutality of 2019 prepared me to be able to take all of these things in stride.

Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.

What is so powerful about these words is that they speak to the core of everything we need to know about the beautiful way God works in our lives. To me when I hear these words it almost erases any fear in my heart. These words speak, loudly, that God is always at work, and that our timing is not His timing. While we may feel like we are all in a moment of lingering, God is not idle. His plan is in motion, and it is coming to fruition when He planned it to be. It may feel like we are waiting on Him, but there is absolutely no delay in when things will happen according to how He needs it to happen for us.

I often picture God’s timing for us like the scene in The Matrix where we first meet Morpheus. He is on the phone with Neo. Neo has never met Morpheus, but he had heard of him. When he gets the call from him he has two choices. Listen to him and have faith that this voice on the phone is actually going to get him out of the situation he is in, or face arrest. As the voice on the phone somehow knows exactly where everyone is, and the exact timing that needs to happen to make the plan come to fruition it becomes clear (to us watching) that Neo needs to do everything this person is telling him to do. Now the end of the scene could be used for a whole different lesson about hesitating with God’s commands, but that is for another day. My point in bringing this up is that while we feel like we are the one’s hiding in the cubicle, not being able to see the threat, or the timing that is necessary to make the plan come to fruition; we have our own voice on the phone that knows the exact timing.

Though it lingers, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.

Wherever you are today, if you’ve taken a moment to read my post also take a moment to let these words from God pour into your soul. Allow the peace that comes with having faith in God’s timing quell some (if not all) of your anxieties. Let the words make the waiting not seem so extreme, and if it starts to rise up again, memorize these words so that they can bring rest to your soul when the anxiety starts to take control. There is no denying that we are in a place of uncertainty from our point of view, but the one who created us is never uncertain. He is absolute, and He knows the things to come that we can’t even see. It will certainly come and it will not delay.

Good Friday

On the surface it is hard to call the events of the day good at all. I try to imagine what it would have been like to be a disciple of Jesus on this day almost 2000 years ago. What emotions would have been flowing through the mind of someone who met Jesus in the flesh, heard Him teach, and watched miracle after miracles be performed; only to now not be able to save himself from a death sentence. What amount of doubt was in the mind of someone who had bought into the idea of eternal life, only to have the supposed giver of eternal life hunched over lifeless on the cross? What panic would have been in the heart of a person who felt like a sheep scattered by wolves that had just killed their shepherd?

If you are a follower of Christ I would invite you to take a moment and close your eyes. Try to erase your gift of hindsight of anything you’ve ever read in the Bible, and try to live in that moment. Take in the sight of your teacher that always had the right words to say standing silent in front of the angry mob yelling for his crucifixion. Feel the frustration as you just beg silently that he would speak a word and make it all go away. You know that if He would just speak then He would be able to save Himself, but he refuses to. Why? Why won’t He defend Himself?! As the day progresses and you see the blood on the whips, the blood of Jesus pooling around his feet, and the thorns in his brow. The cloths removed from Him. The nails driven into Him. The weight of his body sagging his shoulders down. His final breath. His death. At what point would you have asked yourself, hindsight aside, did I get this all wrong?

Truth be told, all of the mass confusion aside, it is a good Friday. It is the best Friday ever, because what we can see in hindsight is that all of the prophesies that Jesus needed to fulfill had finally been met; except for one that happens in a few more days. It was a horrible day for Jesus, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone not trying to fulfill a prophesy, but with all of the necessary items checked off the list the ultimate covenant between God and man had been fulfilled. We were all, with the final breath of Jesus, granted access to God, through grace. No more sacrificing the proper poultry, no more making sure you cut the cow right before burning it, no more need for removing excess skin before becoming a teenager. Jesus had died, the blood of the lamb had been sacrificed and we were set free from the bondage of sin. In our hindsight we know the outcome of the story, but in that knowledge we have to take a moment to appreciate where the grace of God really took hold.

The fact of the matter is that other than “the disciple that Jesus loved,” and the Mary’s no one else stuck around. They bolted. Maybe out of fear that they were next. Maybe because they couldn’t believe they fell for the scam. Maybe because they felt that the roller coaster ride was over and it was time to just get back to life. If we want to understand grace, we have to understand that the first people in need of grace were the same people who – for up to three years – dedicated their life to Jesus only to turn and run when it no longer made any sense. We can’t point the finger, because I can almost guarantee that we all would have been in the same boat, and many of us still are to this day, even with the gift of hindsight.

We all know what happens next. A dead and bloodied body of Christ is put into a grave, and in three days a transformed radiant glowing Jesus is back gathering his heard for a final encore. Yet, even with that understanding we are so often like the disciples who scattered on this day. When it doesn’t make sense. When it gets too impossible to believe anymore. When it seems the opposite of what we think should happen, happens instead. We turn our backs and go about life on our own. This good Friday, if this is you, and you have been going on trying to sort out life on your own because it seems like God just hasn’t been living up to His end of the bargain (whatever we think the bargain is) I would love for you to put yourself in the shoes of the people who thought they clearly got it wrong. Let yourself sink into the mind of one of the disciples who fell out of belief because of the death of Jesus. If you are feeling hopeless, absorb their hopelessness. Now with that same mentality realize that in 3 days he came back. Not to condemn any of them for their disbelief, nor is he condemning you for yours. He came back with love, He came back with grace, He came back so that we would believe. And if we believe, the death that he conquered would hold no victory over us either.

A God Sense of Humor

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”

Matthew 7:3 (NIV)

Let’s face it. Jesus wouldn’t have been a very interesting person to follow if he didn’t throw a little humor around every now and then. I think that when we read the words of Jesus we have a tendency to always hear Him, in our minds, with a stoic or serious tone. We tend to hear Him as the professor who teaches his class with intensity all the time. When you stop and realize that Jesus was indeed all God and all human at the same time, though, you realize that He certainly did have some comedic timing. Matthew 7:3 is the perfect example of this. Yes, He was trying to drive a point home, but He also wanted to make sure people weren’t falling asleep to droning. Imagine it for a moment. Jesus has a rather decent audience around Him. In a calm but authoritative voice He starts His teaching. “Do not judge, or you will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (7:1) He pauses and lets everyone soak up the thought, and ponder one of the many Proverbs that He is speaking of when bringing up being measured. Then at just the right moment as everyone is staring at Him waiting for Him to continue, Jesus lets out a little grin and says with a little jeer in His voice, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” Everyone lets out a little chuckle and the point is made through a ridiculous example.

I know I, for one, have always taken Jesus way too literally. I spent a long time thinking, wow this guy is intense, but I think my understanding has been far too serious. Don’t get me wrong. Jesus being on Earth teaching his people was serious business, but don’t, for a second, think that God came down to Earth just to be all fire and brimstone; intense and overbearing. He came down to Earth through Jesus Christ to embrace living with His creation to the fullest extent. He came down to show love. He came down to show grace. He came down to have a few good laughs while admiring – from the ground level – His greatest creations. I didn’t really have a message pertaining to the specific verse today. Obviously, I have driven my point home in previous posts. Jesus calls us to not judge. I could dive into the actual Proverbs that he was on about. I could get up on a soap box and bemoan the injustices of judging others, but that is not the point of this text today. Today I think it is important to remember that Jesus was God in human form. Jesus came to teach, but also to love, and God got to spend joyful time, even when teaching, with his creation. For me, at least, that brings a smile to my face. There is something so much more comforting knowing that Jesus knew how to teach with a comedic twist.

Strong and Courageous

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your god will be with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9

The beginning of Joshua’s journey as the brand new leader of the Israelite people has been fascinating and encouraging to me lately. For the better part of a month now the words spoken to Joshua from God have been pouring into my heart, but I didn’t know how to put into context what it is that I was feeling. On top of everything else, as we are all aware by now, there has been a very real world event that has made the words God spoke to Joshua all the more relevant to each and every one of us today. So what does it mean to be strong and courageous in extreme times of uncertainty?

God wanted Joshua to hear the message loud and clear. Strong and courageous! Between Moses and God, Joshua had heard this command five times, presumably, within a year. Specifically from God he heard it three times in a single message. So why was God so bent on making sure Joshua would be strong and courageous? Because he was about to go through a massive time of uncertainty. Not only uncertainty, but seemingly impossible events were about to take place, and Joshua needed to know that in all things God was at work in his life. Joshua needed to hear that no matter how impossible the events that were about to unfold might have seemed, God was going to make all things possible. Joshua needed to hear that God is in charge and nothing that may appear to control the situation has authority over God.

The first time God speaks the words of strength and courage it is about leadership. “…you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give to them.” (1:7) Note that God didn’t say, “If all goes well.” He didn’t say, “If they listen to you.” He said, “You will.” He was speaking to Joshua in a critical time of new leadership. There was no denying it. Even though Joshua was groomed for the position He was not the son of Moses. He did not take over command by birth right, election, or by force. He was the aide of Moses who got handed over the reigns. This may not seem significant to a lot of people, but it would be roughly the equivalent of the CEO of a fortune 500 handing over the company to his secretary. The president, vice president, and board members were just going to have to accept that they were now being ordered around by the guy who was answering calls and setting up appointments before the CEO stepped down. It’s not an exact example, but hopefully it drives the point home a little more. In this moment where the charge of leadership was handed over to a seemingly unqualified leader; God was telling Joshua, “These people will listen to you. You will lead them, and they will obey.”

In times like we are in today, where uncertainty is all over the place we need our leaders to hear this command. Though churches are closed, and it appears the body of Christ is scattered we need our leaders to truly be the good shepherds that they were called to be. When our pastors and priests took to their call of leadership they knew that they would be herding the flock. The wolves have come into the pen and scattered the flock. It would be foolish of anyone to not see that this is a time where the enemy can have a hay day wreaking havoc on lives, families, and relationships at a whole. We are in a time where isolation is the name of the game, and non of us know how much longer this will last. We are in a time when the slightest sniffle or dry cough can make everyone uncertain of those around them. However, even though physical isolation is almost a requirement today, we were not left without tools. The internet has been brimming with all the tools necessary to keep the flock together far before this time ever came. Social media, video chat, and even shared document programs are all available to make sure that the people of the body of Christ can still stay connected when the world is telling everyone to stay apart. Utilize the tools, keep the flock together, and make sure that all of the flock stays committed to the one certain promise; that we are all going to the promise land.

The second time God tells Joshua to be strong and courageous is in regard to staying disciplined. “…Be careful to obey all the laws my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” (7;8) This was a very personal command of strength and courage. The strength to stay disciplined in all of his actions would have been a very easy thing for a new leader to be distracted away from. We have all seen it before. The manager who is on a power trip, the manager who thinks that they can sit back and relax and have others do the work now, or the manager who doesn’t think the rules apply to them. They aren’t generally people that others want to work with or for. They usually lead their team down an unsuccessful path. They usually don’t last very long as a leader. God was telling Joshua that he didn’t get to sit back and eat grapes all day commanding others on what to do. No, just the opposite. God was asking him to be more diligent than ever. God was asking Joshua to be a focused and disciplined leader, so that he could stay in His favor, and the favor of the people he was leading. He was asking Joshua to lead by example.

Lets face it. If it hasn’t hit you yet, it will soon. Boredom. There is a reason that God only gave us one day of rest in the week. He knows that when we go too long without doing something productive, we start to lose focus. We start to get complacent, and we start to sway our eyes to the right or to the left. Working dutifully and diligently is one of the ways that we make sure that we are staying focused. So what happens when so many people are being called to work from home, or not at all? We can start to lose focus. What happens when we don’t have church to recenter us at least once a week? We lose focus. What happens when we are placed in a room with computer games, movies, and memes all over social media? We can start to lose focus. What happens when the world outside is completely uncertain and fear has been able to plant its seed in our heart? We absolutely start to lose focus. Now more than ever, we need to listen to the words spoken to Joshua on a personal level. We need to stay disciplined. We need to use our time to draw ourselves closer to the Lord. We need to dive into his Word and instill it into our hearts so that the seeds of boredom and fear can wither away.

Boredom in itself isn’t evil. I mean its not good, but it isn’t evil. If anything boredom is much like a stomach pang for your brain. It is your brain craving engagement. However, just like when we have a stomach pang, we have a choice of what we are going to put into our body when the craving hits. Are you going for the cream puff or the salad? Sure the cream puff is sweet and it will send a quick feel good to your senses, but in return it will also put all kinds of things into your body that really aren’t good for it. The salad, however, may not seem as appetizing at the time, but it will nourish you and actually has many elements that will help revitalize and heal your body – as long as you don’t use too much ranch. Also the more you eat the salad, the less appetizing the cream puff begins to sound. This is the same thing that happens with what we choose to fill our brain with when boredom hits. Are you going to fill it with music and singing that is inspiring and can lift your spirit to God, or are you going to fill it with music that feeds whatever emotion you are currently feeling? Are you going to read books that draw you to God, or books with shirtless pirates embracing an unbuttoned mistress? Are you going to watch videos on the internet that help explain some of the questions you’ve had about God and what it means to have a relationship with him, or are you going to visit a pornography site to find a quick release? Are you going to have conversations with your loved ones to help strengthen your relationships with them, or are you going to turn to a messenger app to make connections with people that would hurt the relationships in your home? Are you going to eat the salad and be nourished, or eat the cream puff for quick satisfaction that leads to negative side effects? In this time where the pangs of boredom are abundant, it is time to stay disciplined and nourish our mind and spirit with the Word of God, and our relationship with God, so that the cream puff of sin doesn’t seem all that appetizing anymore.

The last charge spoken in this context was specifically about Joshua’s relationship with God. “…Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (9) The Israelite people had a knack for calling God “The God of Moses.” I guess it made it easier to live their lives in whatever way they saw fit if they could put a separation between them and God through an emissary. However, God was making it clear to Joshua that not only will He be with Joshua wherever he goes, but that He is Joshua’s God. He was making it clear to Joshua that there is no separation between the two of them. God was calling him to know that he has a personal relationship with Him. On top of that Joshua needed to be strong and courageous because He needed to understand that no matter what uncertainty may be at foot, whatever impossible situation may be at hand; that God is with him.

This is always a big one, because life is never certain. There is always uncertainty, but when uncertainty makes itself the forefront and not the backdrop we tend to lose our focus quickly. We can start to forget that God is our God and nothing can separate us from Him. We start to forget that we have a promise from God that nothing that can happen on this earth can ever take away from us. We are in a time where uncertainty is for sure at the forefront of our lives. Every day the fog of uncertainty is getting denser and denser, and its as though the reality that was just a couple of weeks ago, for most of us, is gone for good. This, however, is just a fog and reality will come back to focus once again when the fog is lifted. In the mean time, though, we have to know that even if we can’t see what the next day will bring (at all right now) that we have the hand of God reaching out to us asking us to take grip and let Him lead us. We have the voice of God calling out to us in comfort, telling us that He is all that we need to get through this time. Just as every person before us, and every person to come, we have a choice. We can get lost in the uncertainty or take comfort in the Word of God. For the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. Even if in this time we get lost in the fear of uncertainty, which most of us will at least a time or two throughout all of this. All we have to do is call out to our Lord and He will place His hand on us to let us know that he is there. Even if we get sick; the Lord is with us. Even if we are hungry; the Lord is with us. Even if we feel alone; the Lord is with us. Even if we die; the Lord is with us. You see, as I said before. We have a promise that this world can not take away from us. Not sickness or death can take us away from the Lord, our God. We can rest assured knowing that no matter what struggles we face, not matter what hardships we endure, that the end game is not the end game. Rather, it is the beginning of our life with God physically. How awesome is that? I would encourage you to draw closer to God in these times, and not separate yourself away. You will find comfort when you embrace the fact that God is with you in all things.

All of these things can be applied any day of the year. They are valuable to us even when there isn’t a pandemic at foot. However, it is times like this when we need to deliberately apply them, and stay disciplined so that we don’t give the enemy a playground to play in.

There is one last thing that I want to say to everyone. If you are feeling alone right now, and alone is a dangerous place for you I beg for you to reach out to me or someone. This time will pass, and we need you on the other side of it. So please, if you are alone, and you are feeling like hurting yourself or worse, do know that we are all here for you. Even if I don’t know you yet, know that I love you and that I would do anything to make sure that we see you again on the other side of isolation. I know that is a bit off topic of the writing of the day, but in times like this it is more important than ever to say this. If you know someone is depressed, or was having a hard time before all of this began I ask you to check in on them daily. Not to the point of annoying anyone, but to the point of people knowing that they are loved.

Stay safe out there people, stay focused, and keep your hand reached out to the Lord. We will all get through this.

Change in Connection

Today I listened to my pastor talk about belonging, and how it is a vital part of our well being. The sermon was very good, but I wont get into detail because it was really just the starting point of my own thought process that forked off quickly from there. (Don’t worry, Jonny, I was still listening.) We are a church that is seeking to build connections. There is no question about that. We have a connection center for the extroverts, and we have QR codes labeled “connect” all over for the introverts who don’t specifically feel like walking up to talk to people early Sunday morning. We are also not without friendly faces all over the place happy to greet anyone who comes in the front door. However, we, just like many other churches, struggle to truly bring in and keep new people. Why is it that people don’t want to come to church anymore?

*as a note: these topics are not directly related to my specific church.

This question is a hot topic. Research and strategies have been funded and implemented all over the United States, but if you look around you can see that there is still so much scrambling going on, within church leaderships, to figure out why people aren’t showing up. People have written books, blogs (as I am doing now) and scholarly editorials on the topic; yet people still aren’t showing up. Everything from not being warm enough, worship being too ridged, not enough programming, and not enough outreach. You name it, someone is testing out a new strategy somewhere today. Yet as I said already, its just not really that effective. The general synopsis is that no one really knows what to do.

Now I am not an expert. Far from it. so take this as strictly an opinion piece through basic observation and understanding. I still wanted to put my two cents in though and possibly open up the topic for anyone who would also like to chime in as well. So here we go. I’ll kind of do this in a list-ish format.

The first and most prominent thing that comes to my mind is that there is a massive gap in ideology between generations right now. As with everything else there are outliers that show up on the outside of the spectrum, but the fact of the matter is that the older generations are stuck in their ways – which do work for them – and they are unwilling to compromise. They don’t want traditions to be rocked. They don’t want what they know to be altered. On the flip side, however, the younger generations do not want anything to do with tradition right now. Where the older generations find comfort in the normalcy of old traditions; the younger generations see them as somber and uninspiring. As you can imagine this contrast doesn’t help because then the older generations view the younger generations as irreverent and the younger generations view the older generations as stubborn. If a church wants to grow the first thing I think needs to be addressed is helping the different generations find the common ground. The older generations need to be willing to pass the baton in humility, and the younger generations need to receive it with respect. Find ways to draw them together. If we can learn to blend the wisdom of the elders with the tenacity of the youth, we can make amazing things happen in the body of Christ. In bartender speak, we need to be able to stop making cement mixers, and start making whiskey sours. (If you don’t know what a cement mixer is, order one and thank me in the comments below later.)

The second thing that comes to mind is this. Lets change the dress code to comfortable casual. I know, I know, this sounds so surface level and blasphemous all at the same time, but hear me out. Also know that I am guilty as charged in this category as I speak on this. You get up Sunday morning, groggy because you sure wish you could sleep in, but instead you need to get up even earlier to get ready to present your Sunday best. God knows what you look like in your birthday suit, or right when you wake up. He knows what your breath smells like after eating ice cream at night and forgetting to brush your teeth before you go to bed. Yet, for some reason we feel the need to dress up ‘for God’ come Sunday morning. My question is: who are we really dressing up for? The same people that we are also plastering our fake smiles across our face for. The congregation. Now why is this a problem? I know, its fun to dress up at least once a week for an hour, but I wonder if church is really the place to do it. Here is the thing, everyone has a pair of jeans and a tee shirt. Not everyone has that nice suit. Nothing will separate people faster than when people are wearing nicer things than others could even dream to wear. In a time where socioeconomic tensions are ridiculously high I think church is a great place to put all that aside and literally just come as you are. Put down the makeup brushes; keep the cologne cap on. Put down the slacks, and put on some jeans. Take off the suit jacket and throw on a polo or a tee. If you think you are dressing up for God, I promise you he isn’t impressed. If you are dressing up for the people in the church, then you are trying to impress the wrong people. I understand there is a fine line when just replacing one dress code for another, but I think it could bridge a huge gap if there was no way to tell someone’s socioeconomic status within the walls of the church.

Thirdly, for the love of God – literally – can we drop the debate on homosexuality. When I say drop the debate, I mean we need to just knock it off. We as Christians are literally alienating an entire population of people in the united states because one church says come on in and another tells them to get out. The fact that we are even having any debate on the topic just goes to show how far from the heart of Jesus we are as a community. Jesus made things very, very clear. Love one another, as He loves us. Love our enemies as our neighbors. Do not judge one another, because even Jesus declared he wasn’t on the earth to judge people. Where are we missing the point? Stop telling people they are unwelcome. Even if you are a church that is welcoming of the LBGT community you are still living within the stigma that church is not for them. But, what about marriage? what about living in sin? what about what our children will think? what about…shush! Yes, I just shushed you. You have a log in your eye and you are worried about the speck in someone else’s. Enough is enough. The idea of someone living “more openly” in sin than someone else is a view from the ground level. We as Christians know that God holds all sin equally and we are all guilty of living openly in sin because it is our nature to sin. All of the “what-about’s” are none of our concern. As I have said to many people before. Our job as Christians is actually quite simple. Introduce people to Jesus. Introduce Him to them by being the embodiment of love and acceptance. From there the person and Jesus can sort out how their relationship will grow. It’s not on you to condemn or cause missteps in their relationship. In the end every one of us will go over our own relationship with Jesus one on one, and if you are one of the people who is telling others that they aren’t worthy of a relationship with Jesus I do not envy you in that discussion. This doesn’t just go for the LBGT community either. There are so many people we alienate for this very reason as well, I just wanted to select one in particular.

There are many other areas that I may go into in future blogs, but there is one more that I wanted to address today. Wipe the smile off your face. For far too long it has been socially unacceptable to show up to church, Sunday morning, with anything other than a plastic smile on your face. If you want to build connections within the walls of the church – I mean real connections; not business connections – then you have to be willing to be exposed. You have to be willing to tear your walls down and be real with the congregation. Removing the fake smile is a really good way to start breaking down the walls. If your pastor is standing in the front telling people to come down with their concerns, and everyone is sitting there with that fake “trust-me-I’m-okay” smile on their face it isn’t very enticing to be the only one to stand up and say “I’m not okay.” Encourage your congregation to express themselves, and be open with where they are. If you want to connect you have to have something to connect to. Velcro does not stick to a slick wall, it only sticks to other Velcro. Imperfection meets imperfection and it joins; polished perfection can not stick to anything.

As I stated before, this is just the opinion of a common individual, but here is one more thing that common sense tells me. If you want change to happen when the direction of the ship has been going one way for a long time. You have to realize that even if you make a sharp turn of the wheel it’s going to take a very long time to actually start seeing the change. Much in the same way that the civil rights movement had major victories 60 years ago, but racism and neo-segregation is still rampant all over the united states. Ideas set in motion take time to come to fruition. They take time to hold. You have to be patient. These 2 year, 5 year, and even 10 year studies are not going to ever show the true results of actions made today, and we will never see the results of any actions if we are constantly turning the wheel one way or the other trying to make drastic corrections fast. Set a course, make it intentional, make it a course that Jesus would be proud of, and continue forward.

I would love to hear your ideas as well so please share in the comments below. Thank you!

Obstinate

When you are searching the scripture looking for a word to jump out at you obstinate is not the word you want speaking to your soul. However, that’s the word I landed on tonight. Maybe it was because its one of those words that I can use in a sentence, but have to look it up in the dictionary to make sure I am using it right. Or maybe its because it speaks to the very nature of my soul, as I am sure it does to many of us who are searching. In case you are in the same boat as I was a few sentences up; obstinate is defined as: Stubbornly refusing to change one’s opinion or chosen course of action, despite attempts to persuade one to do so. I don’t know what happened to you when you read the definition, but for me it went from a word that stood out in the scripture to a full blown ah-ha moment.

As of late I have been feeling compelled to pick apart Isaiah 35 word for word. Being that this text has been put in front of my face several times in rapid succession I can only assume God wants me to get the message. It is a lot like when God spoke to Joshua and told him three times in four verses to be strong and courageous. If God is trying to tell you something, He’s going to repeat it so that you know its clear! Anyway, as I started to read through the sub-notes and little fine-print letters sending me to other parts of the book for more understanding; I started to see something. A pattern, and I think is not just my own.

In my investigation to better understand Isaiah 35, I found myself at the beginning of Isaiah 30. “Woe to the obstinate children, declares the Lord, To those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance, but not by my spirit, heaping sin upon sin…” And there it is, the word that convinced me to pen to paper tonight (on a keyboard, rather.) I am going to speak for myself here, and if matches you, too, I wouldn’t be surprised. I will say that I am confident that I am not alone, but lets just look at it from my perspective for a moment.

Being obstinate is something I am far too familiar with. Stubbornness is something that has always been a struggle for me. My opinion, my perspective, my personal interest. If you didn’t see it my way, that was going to be a problem for us. The problem with this thinking in my own life, however, is that it is called out right here in Isaiah 30. “To those who carry out plans that are not mine.” Yep, guilty to the first degree. “Heaping sin upon sin.” Second count. To say I was building up my own death sentence with shame and guilt is sadly not an over exaggeration. I was on a path – that was my own – straight down the road to emotional, spiritual, and even physical destruction. Clearly, that was not the direction that God had intended for me, but I was being an obstinate child determined to do things my own way even if it killed me. As much as these words were meant for the Israelite people back in the day; they were also written for me to read today.

I didn’t know – before I started reading the Bible today – that God was going to have me take a look back to see where I was in contrast to where I am today. But here I was stuck walking down memory lane, hand in hand, with God making sure I knew where I was, so that I would know where I am going. However, we weren’t done with Isaiah 30 quite yet. As I continued reading on I landed soundly on the words of verses 10 through 14.

They say to the seers, “See no more visions!” and to the prophets, “Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!” (10-11)

All I could think about in this moment were all of the times in the past 8 years that people would approach me and ask me about my faith. To which I would spout something intellectual and make it sound like I knew what I was talking about. Only to know in my heart that I was so far away from the Lord I didn’t even remember the last time I’d prayed. “Yeah, I’m a Christian, and I am messed up, but Gods got my back.” Yeah, no He didn’t. I mean, sure, if I would have asked he’d have jumped at the opportunity, but I was pleasantly lying to everyone around me that I was on good terms with God. I knew about God’s grace, but I wasn’t going to make time to ask for it. I was too busy searching for my own fortune, my own version of success (horribly I might add.) I wasn’t going to make time for God because I knew he’d tell me I was doing it all wrong, because I was. So I would lie – especially to myself – and say that I felt like God was directing me here or there when in reality I was directing myself hoping to find my greener grass always on the other side of the fence. If people would confront me about my position, I would instantly get defensive. I’d try to make them feel stupid for confronting me about it, even though I was the only fool in the situation. Then, God’s response to his people (and me) hit home hard.

“Because you have rejected this message, relied on oppression and depended on deceit, this sin will become for you like a high wall, cracked and bulging, that collapses suddenly, in an instant. It will break into pieces like pottery, shattered so mercilessly that among its pieces not a fragment will be found for taking coals from the hearth or scooping water out of a cistern.” (12-14)

Reading those words felt like a direct smack in the face. A nudge in the ribs. Those words define exactly what took place in my life almost a year ago now. My path had lead me to the point where I was ready to call it quits. I was ready to accept that my path had lead me straight to a cliff and I was ready to jump off because I didn’t see another way. Many times I have said that the defining moment in my life was when God saved my life only to shatter it. He let the clay jar drop and shatter to dust, so that He could rebuild it the way he intended for it to be used. As though God wanted to make sure there was no coincidence that He was in charge of this trip down memory lane what came next hit just as hard, but as a reminder of God’s amazing grace.

In that day they will say, Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation. (25:9)

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! (30:18)

There I was broken, shattered, dust to dust, but God took mercy on me and on that day he saved me. He took me to my sanctuary and began the healing. He spoke truth into my soul and I trusted him again. I rejoiced because he redeemed me and restored his salvation for me.

You see, here’s the thing. Maybe these words aren’t defining an exact moment in your life, but I would wager that it’s speaking to a period of your life. Maybe one years ago, maybe one you are still in, or maybe one that is going to find its way into your future. We are all obstinate children who love to take charge of our own life. We love to say we can find our own way. We love to give it our best shot without involving God. We just don’t want to bother Him with our life right? No, we don’t want Him to bother our lives with Him. We don’t want to stand corrected. We don’t want to hear the right way because we like our way, and in the moment it seems “right.” Speaking from experience, I can say plainly. If you are living a wholly obstinate lifestyle avoiding God’s correction, it will absolutely come back to bite you. Ask God to correct you. Repent to God and ask Him to steer you back on the path he has designed for you, because what held true for Israel also held true for me. I am sure it holds true for every one of us.

The enemy loves stubborn people because he can make easy work of us. All it takes is a little misdirection and we will take ourselves out. From there minimal effort is needed to keep us walking down the path leading to the cliff. No matter where your stubbornness is, rather it be addiction, lust, pride, greed. Get off the path. Stop, and pray. Ask God to redirect you because no matter how far off the rails you are now, it will only get worse from here. Give it up and give it to God (I know how cliche that is.) If this spoke at all to where your life is today it’s time, now, to allow Gods grace to flood over you. It is time, now, to ask for forgiveness and redirection. It is time, now, to accept your way is never going to lead to the right way, and only the Lord can point you back to the true way that He intended. Trust me when I say that path is far greater than anything we could ever imagine for ourselves.

The Splinter

In youthful bliss, he let his imagination conquer the day. The sun shown bright; warming his skin to the point that a cool breeze would send goosebumps up his slightly sun burnt arms. In his world the playground was his kingdom and he ruled over the empty swings that creaked in the wind. Though he was alone at the playground, there was no end to the evil knights he had to slay to protect his kingdom. In his eyes the branch he wielded was an elegant sword that could cut down an enemy with a single blow. He struck the final blow to the last standing antagonist, sheathed his stick, and began to stroll through his kingdom. He slid his hand along the wooden rail of his balcony, and as a sharp pain pierced his fingertip his kingdom came crashing down.

He looked down and embedded just under the skin a little brown dot pinpointed the source of the pain. This wasn’t his first splinter, and he knew right away what it was. As a pool of tears began to well up under his eyes the world of his imagination was lost. Frantically he began pinching the area between the fingers of his other hand desperately trying to get it out, but it was too far under the surface to be able to get to it. The pain continued to intensify as his nerves throbbed trying to make him aware of the obstruction that needed to be removed.

Noticing his son had stopped playing the father called out, “Is everything okay, son?”

Embarrassed and afraid that his father would try to remove it the son replied unconvincingly, “Yeah.”

“Are you sure?” Said the father, knowing that something was wrong.

“I’m fine,” reassured the son.

As to not draw more attention the son ran over to the swings and hopped on. He remembered the last time he got a splinter, and his father had to get it out. It hurt really bad, and he didn’t want to go through that again. As he gripped the warm chain of the swing the pressure shot another sharp pain through his finger tip. As to not call his father to alarm, though, he winced through it, and as he swung back and forth a hand full of times the pain started to subside. The tears air dried, and he was able to maintain a sense of normality that he thought would fool his father.

“Time to go,” his father hollered at him.

He swung back for full momentum and pushed forward leaping off at the top of the upswing. As he landed his knees buckled and he caught himself with his hands, sending another sharp pain into the tip of his finger. He bit his lower lip trying to not cry as the throbbing came back. He wiped the single tear from his eye and ran towards his dad so that they could set off for home.

On the car ride home he glanced down inspecting his finger, hoping that there would be some piece of the sliver that he could grab onto. He picked at it once, and then looked up to see his fathers eyes staring back at him through the rear view mirror.

“Whats wrong with your finger, son?” He heard as his fathers eyes clearly showed concern through the reflection.

“Nothing!” He exclaimed knowing he’d been caught looking at it.

“Is it a splinter?”

“No!”

“I’ll take a look at it when we get home.”

“NO!”

Dread filled his gut as he knew what that meant. Tweezers! No, no, no, anything but the tweezers! His memory shot back to the last time he had a splinter. The sharp pain of his father pulling at his skin. The frustration of him not getting it the first time, because he flinched. The terror of feeling the tweezers dig in for a second attempt. No way, not this time! He was going to make a run for it the second they got home.

The car pulled into the driveway, and like a well trained track star the sound of the door unlocking triggered his twitch muscles like that of starting gun. He jumped for the handle and was out of the car faster than his father could turn the ignition key off. He didn’t look back, he sprinted to the door and swung it open. As he breached the threshold he quickly slammed the door behind him and ran up the stairs to his room. He pushed the door shut and stood against it. As quickly as his brain hinted a sense of calm he realized he had trapped himself. He heard the front door open and shut.

“Son? Where did you go?”

He didn’t speak a word. He wasn’t going to make this easy. His father would have to at least look in three or four places before the torture would begin. He knew that it was only a matter of time before the inevitable would happen. As the minutes ticked by, however, the footsteps up the stairs didn’t come. He started to wonder if his father maybe forgot about him. Relieved he walked over to his bed and laid down. He looked at his finger again and it was starting to hurt around the splinter now. A red hue was starting to show around the obstruction, and it was starting to burn. He decided to ignore it, and just learn to live with it, but he was starting to get hungry. He looked at the clock and realized dinner would be soon. He decided he wouldn’t go down for dinner unless he was called down. He’d skip dinner if it meant not having to face his father and those tweezers.

Dinner time came and passed. Where was his father though? Why wasn’t he coming to fix it? Why didn’t he call him to dinner? It started to bother him that it appeared his father didn’t care enough to come help him or feed him. How dare he! He decided this could no longer stand, and his stomach was rumbling. He opened his door and walked down the stairs.

“Father?” He asked peeking his head around the corner of the stairway.

“Yes?”

“Were you going to call me for dinner?” He questioned, figuring it was best to start with a safe question.

“You knew it was dinner time, and didn’t come down.” His father stated, turning it back on him.

He caved, “I didn’t want you to get your tweezers.”

“Oh, so it is a splinter?” His father coyly questioned.

He looked down at his finger, and figured he should finally admit it, “Yes, I got a splinter on the playground.”

“Why didn’t you want me to fix it? Didn’t you want to feel better?” His father asked with a soft tone.

“No, it hurts too much when you use the tweezers. Isn’t there any other way?” He pleaded.

“If you want to get it out? No. And it will be quick. Then we can eat.” His father said calmly.

“Are you mad at me?” The child asked.

“No, I just wish you would have come to me sooner, son. It wont go away on its own. The faster we fix it the faster you can get on with life as normal,” his father stated with determination.

As the child walked over to the couch and sat down the father walked into the bathroom to retrieve his tweezers. The father made his way over to the couch and sat down. He placed his son’s hand in his lap face up. The son looked away and prepared as he felt his fathers fingers put pressure around the sore area on his finger. He felt the cold metal touch his finger and he pulled away.

“AAOOOWW!!!” He exclaimed as he pulled his hand away from his fathers grip.

“Hold still, I will get it out quick if you just let me get to it.” His father said slightly frustrated grabbing for his hand again, “Do you want this splinter out or not?”

He nodded, and his father recommenced the pressure on his finger. He felt the cold metal once again and felt it squeeze together pinching his skin. He cried out again and pulled his hand away. Something felt different though. He opened his eyes and glanced over at the tweezers his father was also inspecting. There in between the clasped shiny prongs was a little speck of something pointy and brown.

“Got it!” His father proclaimed proudly.

He hugged his father in relief, “Thank you!”

“You are welcome. Now remember to be more careful next time so we don’t have to do this again,” His father spoke to him in simple wisdom.

The relief of the moment felt amazing, and as his father walked to the kitchen to warm up the food he had made for him earlier the son could not believe that he had fought so hard to not feel the relief of having the splinter removed. He thought his father would be mad, but he wasn’t. He just wanted to heal him. He hoped that there wouldn’t be a next time again, but if there was he promised himself he wouldn’t fight it so hard then.

We have all been here, both physically and spiritually. Spiritually we sin and we think to ourselves, I can get it out myself. I can fix it myself. But no matter how much we pick at it it only digs itself deeper in. We need our Father to remove the sin, it is the only way. The best part is He will do it the second you release it to him to be taken out, and he will do it full of grace wanting nothing more than to heal you. If you read through this the first time thinking it was simply a story about a father and a son, re-read it again this time looking at it from the perspective of you, God the Father, and sin. Thank you so much for reading!

In The Moment

“I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy.

John 16:20

There is something to be said about how much time Jesus invested preparing His disciples for what was to come. In total almost 5 whole chapters in John were dedicated to Jesus doing everything he could to prepare them, but nothing could prepare them. How do you prepare anyone to face a situation that seems unfathomable? How do you possibly tell them everything is going to be okay as long as they stand in faith. That God will fulfill the promise that he has given, even when it seems impossible.

For the disciples the answer was simple, you can’t. Even though they had witnessed miracle after miracle. Even though they witnessed Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Even though they had seen Him cast out demons simply by speaking to them. Jesus was about to go through one of the most excruciating (the actual word that described the level of pain of crucifixion) deaths a person had to endure. He was about to die, and that was as far as any of the disciples would see. They had no ability to understand and have faith in the promise because all records had shown – other than one miracle – that death is the end. We say that we believe God can do all things. We say that nothing is impossible for God, but when push comes to shove, and we are faced with the impossible we are met with our own lacking of human understanding.

While the disciples faith was restored once Jesus revealed Himself to them it doesn’t make it any easier for us when we are going through our own impossible moments. Let me just say right off the bat: I wish I had the answer for you. I wish I could tell you that indeed everything works out as God promises, and according to the Bible and other people’s experience it does. However, as I sit in the midst of my own impossible moment I can not lie to you and say that my faith in God’s promise has been full through the entire ordeal. I can’t tell you how many times I have found myself mistrusting what God spoke to me. On so many occasions I have convinced myself – with the help of the enemy – that it really is impossible. Every time I have let myself get too far off the rails though, I have asked God to reassure me. I am sure by now He is saying, “Seriously? Again?” But as the good and faithful God, full of grace, that He is, He continually reassures me that there is a promise to be fulfilled at the end of all of this.

Tonight, though, as I sit here poking my nose into the Gospels; I do not come to you with any real answers, but really to pose a question. Why, with all of the good news that we know, do we still so quickly distrust our God, capable of all things? I know I can’t be alone in this.

We are so quick to read through the Old Testament and start pointing fingers of shame at all of the people. We question, “How could they?” To the Israelite people when they witnessed God cripple Egypt, part a sea, and allow them to escape what seemed to be permanent slavery; only to melt down Gold and create an idol to worship because Moses and God were chit chatting too long up on the mountain. We ask how Saul could hear Samuel tell him what God wanted him to do; only to turn and do the exact opposite right after the battle. We ask how Peter could go from saying that they survive on every word that comes from the mouth of Jesus; only to deny Him when his faith was put to the test. In every situation we look at in the Bible we can look in hindsight and say, “wow, their faith was so weak!” But we do exactly the same thing.

When you are in the thick of it, our human understanding can so easily get the best of us. Our fears come to the front and we quickly forget about the promises that God has laid before us. We are no better than any human that ever came before us, and no human that comes after us will be better than us. We are all sinners, and when Adam and Eve partook in the fruit they ensured that we all did. We are all guilty of breaking the first commandment a time or two, or two hundred. Part of loving God with all of our hearts is trusting Him with every word that he speaks, either through the Bible, or in our own hearts. I raise my hand, as a sinner, to say that I would be a hypocrite if I judged anyone for losing their trust in the Lord, but what I can say is this. God is a forgiving God. Continue to pray deeply in repentance, ask for forgiveness, and reconfirm your love for God. Allow Him to remove the shame with forgiveness, and get back on the path and keep walking it. He will forgive you, and He will make the promise come true. That much, at least for me, I do believe when I get out of my own head long enough to listen to the Lord. Also, as the first light of day starts to flicker over the horizon, things do start to get easier as well. Let me pose a few questions to you that I would love for you to answer in the comments below.

  1. How have you found ways to endure even when it seems like things are impossible?
  2. Have you had your own impossible situation? What was the outcome? (you don’t have to get too personal on this.)
  3. Is there a scripture that God has placed in your heart for when the moments get tough?

Feel free to answer one or all! I would love to hear your input!

God Knows

Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

Psalms 139:23-24

There was a time in my life when the thought of this Psalm would have sent shivers down my spine. Search me? Know my heart? Know my thoughts? I would have been about as nervous as a drug mule passing through an airport x-ray scanner. “No thanks, God, I’ll pass on all that,” I would have said, “You’re not going to like what you see. I am far too embarrassed and ashamed to share it with you.” I think it is fair to say that we have all been there. Some of us are are still there every day, and all of us have those moments even as we faithfully walk with Christ. We are humans, sinful by nature, and we are no different from Adam and Eve covering themselves out of shame when God shows up.

Do you want to know a big secret though? Lean in, listen close.

God already knows!

Yes, we rush to cover ourselves with fig leaves, but God already knows we ate the fruit. We try to deny it out of guilt, we throw blame around to everyone else. We justify why we did what we did to ourselves, but we aren’t fooling God. When we ask God to search our hearts and thoughts its not to say, “Ah ha! I know I am pure! Just try me God.” We’re not, and that’s not what this psalm speaks to me. When we ask God to search our hearts, and scan our thoughts it is a passionate cry out that you, indeed, want to be intimate with your Heavenly Father. It is opening yourself up to God and saying to Him, “Lord, I know I am flawed, and I open myself up to you so that you may discipline me and guide me.”

The lord, our God, wants nothing more than for us to take the locks off of our hearts and open up to Him. When we do, God takes mercy, God shows grace. Will he discipline you? Absolutely. Will he show you grace? Most assuredly. even the first, history altering, sin was met with grace. He clothed Adam and Eve, and sent them away from a life that would have caused eternal pain and suffering.

Take a deep breath, cry a little (or a lot) if you have to, and ask God to search your heart. Ask God to search your thoughts. Become intimate with God and tell Him that you are willing to be known. God loves you more than you know, and this is one of the very first steps to building an intimate relationship with the one who loves you unconditionally.